With Sprint Cup Series Win At Atlanta Motor Speedway
Carl Edwards followed up his win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Saturday at Memphis by capturing the Sprint Cup Series event Sunday in Atlanta. The win was his seventh of the season and moved him into second place in the NSCS point standings. Carl Edwards captured his 14th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and seventh of the season with today’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
· Today’s win is the third NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at AMS for Edwards.
· The last time a Ford driver won at least seven NASCAR Sprint Cup races in a season was 1998 when Mark Martin won seven times.
· This is the second time Edwards has swept a Busch and Cup weekend this season, doing it last in August at Michigan.
· Ford has now won 590 all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
· Today’s win is the ninth of the season for Ford.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW -- TALK ABOUT RETAKING THE LEAD? “First of all, I’ve got to thank Office Depot, Aflac, Ford, Sprint and also these fans for coming out here. Man, the second-to-last restart, Denny spun his tires and I spun mine a little bit and then he spun them again and I pushed him bumper and then he spun them again and he went to the inside. I thought inside, ‘Man, here’s my chance to get to the outside,’ I really didn’t think he was gonna spin them that second time. I thought I was gonna bump him and he was gonna keep on going and I figured I’d follow him for a while, but it just worked out great. I can’t thank my guys enough. I went to the Aflac Cancer Hospital and met this kid, Dalton. He gave me this necklace. It’s his courage necklace. He was a really cool kid and this is really awesome. He said this would bring me luck, so it was an awesome weekend for us. I can’t believe how great this weekend is.” YOU SAW WHO FINISHED SECOND, THE 48. “Are you kidding me? Man, you’ve rained on my parade all day. I could have done without that one. Jimmie is an awesome competitor. I mean, Chad and Rick and all those guys came down to congratulate me, but that’s unbelievable. He does a great job. I’ve got to thank the engine department and the guys who build these race cars. Jack Roush for giving me this opportunity. This whole weekend, it’s just unbelievable I get to do this. It’s very awesome.” THREE MORE CHANCES. “Yeah, three more good tracks for us. Man, Jimmie is magic. We’ve got to go win those next three and hope for the best.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 Dish Network Turbo HD Ford Fusion (Finished 10th) – “I don’t know why, but the car obviously was not right. We were awful in practice and just never got a handle on it. We tried some different things on it in the race. We tried a whole grocery list of stuff on it today, but we just couldn’t get it to go. That’s all we could do. We were way too tight at the end. I think I could have got about four more spots, but it was just unfortunate. We worked hard today and that’s all we could do.” WAS IT REAL SLIPPERY OUT THERE? “Yeah, it just seemed like there wasn’t a lot of grip and I couldn’t get my car to get a hold of the track. It would do about four things in the same corner – just real, real loose and then it would get tight and then I’d go to the gas and get loose, and then on late exit it would push again. It was just on top of the track all day. We just need to do our homework better and just be better.” IT’S ONE RACE YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD GAIN POINTS ON THE 48. “I mean, we don’t even care about that. We’re just running as good as we can and whatever happens happens. I’m tired of people asking me how we’re gonna catch him. We’re just gonna race as hard as we can every week. We’ve got three more chances and then we’re gonna start over next year.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Finished 8th) – “It was a solid day. We certainly didn’t start out great. Jimmy and the AAA team made good calls throughout the race and made solid improvements on our car. A top-10 is good. I think if we could have been on equal tires and got the car a little bit better at the end, we might have been a little bit better, but we’re certainly happy. That’s a good finish here and now we’ll move on to Phoenix.”
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 USG/DeWalt Ford Fusion (Finished 4th) – “We were good all day, it’s just that in this day and age of racing with these cars and stuff we’ve got going on, you can take a pretty good car and put it in the front and think you’ve got the best car in the world, and then you put it in second and you’ve got a pretty average top-five or top-10 car. It’s just really frustrating. We had a good car. I had good stops. Denny beat us out of the pits and once he did that, we just couldn’t get back by him. We were just so much slower behind another car and then I got beat on that restart by Carl. He laid back a little bit and got an excellent restart and got by me and then we were pretty much done.”
TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 28 Hitachi Power Tools Ford Fusion (Finished 23rd) – “Overall it was just an average day. The second half of the race our car was pretty decent, it just took us two or three pit stops to get it there. I’m kind of disappointed we didn’t start the race with a little more speed and starting by points we were back there a little bit, so we were kind of handicapped by that, but the guys just did a great job working on it and making the right adjustments. At the midpoint of the race it was pretty respectable with pretty decent lap times, but by that time we were already a lap or two down and so we were kind of just riding it out.”
CARL EDWARDS PRESS CONFERENCECARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – “It was a lot of fun. This race track is a blast. I hope they never repave it or mess with it. It’s really fun to drive on. You can spin the tires halfway down each straightaway and made it drive like a dry, slick dirt track. It was a lot of fun. Bob did a great job. In the middle of the race we weren’t as fast as we were at the beginning and the end, which, I guess, if you have to pick a spot in the race to not be fast, that would be it, but Bob did a great job at the end. It all worked out. It’s just awesome. This has been a great couple days for me and I can’t thank Jack enough for this opportunity. This is amazing.”
BOB OSBORNE, Crew Chief – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – “We got behind relative to the race track and relative to some of the competitors and I think some of that had to do with some of the calls that I made. I went a little bit too far on some of my adjustments and had to backpedal a little bit and go in a different direction late in the race to try and get caught back up.”
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – “They did really, really well, obviously. To watch Carl and Bob work the car and work the race track and work the race in a 500-mile race is just an amazing thing to watch it unfold. They’ve got the chemistry that you need to have between the driver and a crew chief to be able to sort all those things out. They worked their way through it. I knew Bob was good early on and the car was good early on, and I knew that they had lost their way or the competitors had gotten better in the middle, and I was really, really, relieved at the end when Bob made his last adjustment and got it where it needed to be. The one thing that I wanted to say is that days like this for teams like ours, that have the success we’ve had, that’s what we want to go back and think about 2008 – think about our championship run and what it meant, but, unfortunately, I think it will come down to thinking about the broken engine parts, the ignition and the other frustrations we’ve had, but it would be my suggestion as NASCAR looks at how to make this more exciting, if every team had an opportunity to throw out one race and be able to just count nine of the 10, that means you could have a mulligan and you could be able to come back from it, but, anyway, we’re gonna remember this night. It was a wonderful evening to be in Atlanta. We had the soldiers from the 75th Regiment, third brigade – the Army Rangers that just came back from Iraq. One of their soldiers, Patrick Rudd, died over there. He was a friend of a friend and the race track extended an invitation to them and 200 of the soldiers came up and joined us today. It was a wonderful thing that the race track did, so I’m dedicating my part of the victory to Sgt. Patrick Rudd, that lost his life in Iraq. He and his Regiment of Rangers are one of the reasons we can have events like this in relative safety with all the other things going on in the world.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – DID YOU LOSE TRACK OF WHERE JIMMIE WAS DURING THE RACE? “Yeah, I looked up there on the scoreboard and I saw that he was running seventh, eighth, ninth, somewhere in there most of the second half of the race and that’s why when Dave Burns said, ‘What do you think about Jimmie finishing second,’ I thought he was joking. I truly didn’t know until I looked at the scoreboard that Jimmie had made that back up. I got to see some video and they put on some tires and went for it and that’s pretty amazing. He’s a heck of a competitor, just like I’ve said before. He’s the first guy to come congratulate you when you win and that just makes him harder to beat. He’s just one of those guys that does it right, so we’ve got to hope that he has something happen like the things we’ve had happen and lose a couple hundred points and we just have to be able to capitalize because I believe with the way they’re running, it’s gonna be really tough to beat them, but we can do it. We just have to go win and if we do everything we can, that’s all we can do.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – HOW HARD WAS IT TO STAY PATIENT LATE AND WAS THERE A MOMENT OF PANIC IN THE MIDDLE WHEN YOU WEREN’T GOOD? “No, I didn’t panic or anything, but I definitely got a little frustrated there in the middle of the race. Like Bob said, we kind of adjusted ourselves away from being as fast as we were at the beginning, but you’ve just got to keep working and keep digging and never give up. That applies to every part of our race team. We try to always focus on what we have to do no matter what the circumstance and that worked out today, but definitely in the middle of the race I didn’t believe we were gonna win the thing. The pass for the lead there, it was on a restart and all day everybody had been having trouble spinning the tires. Denny spun his tires a little bit and then I spun mine, and then he spun them some more and I got to his bumper and all I could think about was the guys passing all of us, and I pushed on his rear bumper a little bit and then he went to block the inside and spun the tires again, I guess, or something. I think that was a smart move on his part to go to the inside. That’s where I was planning on going and that opened the door to the top and I just thought, ‘Well, I’ll try it,’ but I was really nervous the guys behind me were gonna get to the bottom and get by us, but it worked out. The last adjustment Bob made, made the car real fast on the top.”
WHEN YOU GOT THE LEAD WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT NOT MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE DENNY MADE? “Oh yeah. Bob came on the radio on that last restart and he said, ‘I think I saw what just happened with you and Denny.’ He said something like, ‘Be careful, it’s your turn now.’ It’s so hard on those restarts. It’s really difficult. You get put in the lead there and a lot of times you’re a sitting duck because all the hair on the back of your neck is standing up and everything in your brain is screaming, ‘Stand on the gas! Stand on the gas!’ And it’s just really difficult to not spin the tires. Early in the race I did it a couple of times real bad, so that was interesting. But once we got the lead, yeah, it was, ‘don’t mess up – focus – hit your marks – and the car was really fast.”
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PIT STOP WHEN YOU COLLIDED WITH THE 88? “First of all, I didn’t know until they told me. I thought I hit the 2 car. There’s so much going on there. I didn’t know exactly what happened. Bob cleared me one out and I was stuck behind Jimmie a little bit and I got around Jimmie and the rear end slid out an extra foot or whatever and I hit somebody’s car there. I guess it was Dale. I don’t know if they were two or three-wide or what was going on there, but there wasn’t a lot of room. I tried to keep it as tight as I could. I’ve seen a lot of good races go bad on pit road and that made me a little bit nervous when we got into those guys there. I haven’t seen a replay yet, but it felt like a mess.”
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE NECKLACE FROM THE KID AT THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL? “Yeah, it was really cool. I’ve still got it on – this necklace here. Dalton, this really cool kid, we went to the Aflac Cancer Center at the Children’s Hospital in downtown Atlanta. As everybody knows, there’s a lot of people that give a lot in this sport and I didn’t realize how much Aflac does for all these kids. They don’t turn one kid away. They treat everyone, regardless of whether they can pay or not. They treat a lot of children and they cure 70 percent of the kids that come in there with cancer, so they can go on and live regular lives and succeed at whatever they want to do. Dalton was really cool. David Gilliland and myself went through the hospital and we had a really good time and at the end Dalton said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this courage necklace and I get the beads for everytime I come to the hospital and have a visit or do something – a surgery or something like that’ – he said, ‘I want you to wear it. I think it will be good luck on Sunday. He definitely said he wants it back after this race, which is too bad because I think it worked.”
BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – DID YOU NOT WANT TO TELL CARL THAT JIMMIE WAS SECOND? “Honestly, I didn’t realize he was second either until we got to Victory Circle. I figured the 11 had finished second. I did see he got to third, but I didn’t realize he made it to second until I was walking back there.” WAS IT EASY FOR THE 48 TO TAKE FOUR TIRES WITH 10 TO GO AND IS THAT DECISION CHANGE AT ALL OR MADE EASIER BY THEIR POINT LEAD? “For sure the point cushion allows them to do some things that ordinarily we wouldn’t do as crew chiefs, but they really didn’t have anything to lose. If no one came in front of them, they were the first ones to come, they had a pretty good feeling that some of the cars behind them would come too, but with a single-file restart four tires go a long way, obviously.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WILL YOU BE PLEASED WITH THIS SEASON REGARDLESS OF IF YOU WIN THE TITLE OR NOT? “Here’s the deal, we go out and do the best we can. If we win 10 races and the championship, it’s gonna be a spectacular season and that’s what we’re focusing on doing right now. So, I don’t know, we’ll just have to see what happens. The one thing I’ve learned in this sport, and it’s really hard to come to grips with, is you don’t always get the result you want. You just have to perform the best you can and, if you do that, the result doesn’t matter, you can lay your head down at night and feel OK. So I guess we’ll see after Homestead. I hope that’s not what happens.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING THE 48 PITTING IN FRONT OF YOU. WAS THAT OK? “Bob had a better look at it. A lot of people brought that up. I don’t know if they were making something about that in the coverage of the race, but Jimmie’s job is not to make it easy on us. If he was behind us on pit road, I might leave mine hanging out a little farther than normal. I thought he put it far enough in the box. I didn’t think he was purposely making it hard on us, but they’re not supposed to make it easy on us, so I didn’t have any trouble with that. There are no hard feelings about that from me.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TOMORROW AND SWEEPING TEXAS. “I’ve got this arobatic plane. I’ve been doing some flight training, but I don’t have anything scheduled for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’m just gonna fly. I don’t know if I’m gonna learn much, but we’re gonna have a good time with it. Jack’s kind of got me screwed up with airplanes. It’s fun, but it sure is expensive, but it’s fun, we have a good time.’ I’ve got this airplane. It’s an Extra 300 and it’ll do a lot more than I will, so it’s something I’m real excited about doing this week is going and flying that thing. It’s got the smoke system and you can do loops and barrel rolls. My girlfriend actually went with me the other day and hung on for most of it. It was fun. Oh yeah, she’s my fiancé. I’m sorry, Kate. I’m sorry. She’ll forgive me. Texas is gonna be fun. I like racing there. It’s a lot like this place. It’s fast. It’s fun. I’m sure Bob will have a great setup. He does a really good job at these tracks. I feel like he can almost read my mind as far as what I want and there wouldn’t be much better place to double-up than Texas. That’s a really great race – very important at this point in the season to run well there.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TIRES. “I was just glad they didn’t screw them up. I thought they were perfect in the spring. That’s just the way I feel. I know a lot of people don’t feel that way, but maybe it’s because I’ve got these guys sitting next to me and we’ve got such great race cars, but I enjoy when you’ve got to push pedals a lot and move the steering wheel a lot. It puts it back in the driver’s hand. It’s literally like a 500-mile Saturday night dirt track race. You’re driving the whole time. That’s fun.”JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “From Bob and I’s point of view, when you have a tire that is so good for a race track that you can abuse it and you can run it for a full fuel run and not have any consequence of not having your setup right, it really doesn’t give you much to work with, but the tires they had here, if you get off a little bit or if you overheat one tire, you’re gonna have a consequence of really having your car slow down and that really lets the crew chiefs with the setup and the driver who gives the best input have the best chance. So we like to race these tires. We like for the tires not to be perfect. They were good tires, even though that they fell off quite a bit.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – IF SOMEONE SAID YOU’D BE 183 POINTS OUT AT THIS POINT OF THE CHASE WITH THREE TO GO, WOULD YOU HAVE THOUGHT YOU’D BE SECOND? “I don’t know. No, listen guys, anything can happen. If there’s one thing this season has shown me and all of us I guess here is that everytime you think you’ve got it figured out, who is gonna be the guy to beat, I think it can get turned on its head quickly. I’m telling you, as long as we’re within 130 points going to Homestead, or whatever, we’re still going there to win a championship and it can happen. So, yeah, it would have been hard for me to believe that there would be one guy that would have that big of a lead right now, but if I had to pick a guy, I’d say it’s Jimmie Johnson. Those guys are really consistent. They do their jobs, but they can have the same luck that we’ve had, that’s for sure.”
SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO THROW A RACE OUT IN THE CHASE? “You’ve got to be careful because next year we might have 183-point lead here. I think it depends. It would be good right now, for sure. We’d maybe throw out two, it would be great.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “I raced for twenty-some years before I started with NASCAR stock car racing back in 1988 and I’ve raced in a couple of series and had great championship runs with programs where they did throw out one or two races. They didn’t have a 10-race deal at the end of the season, but throughout the year, and what that really meant was until you used up your mulligan, you raced as hard as you could go every lap, and if you didn’t have a mulligan, well then you’d have to be somewhat more cautious. It’s more exciting if you’re able to go as hard as you can until you realize that they’re gonna really hurt you.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “That’s a good point. You can take bigger risks if you haven’t used your mulligan, so I think that’s part of what the chase format has brought about – knowing that you’ve got 26 races. I know for us, it was really fun with about four to go right before the chase started. We knew that we were in, so I just drove as hard as I could and we tried a bunch of stuff and that made it a lot of fun.”
BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – “I don’t see why not. I don’t think NASCAR wants to see their championship won by this many points, for sure. I don’t want to see it won by this many points. I don’t think anybody wants to see it won by this many points, so if they come up with a format that can adjust this and make the chase even that much more competitive, that would be wonderful.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – ANY FRUSTRATION GAINING ONLY 16 POINTS? “There isn’t. We came here and did what we had to do. We won the race and, man, that’s all we can do. I would be a fool to go home and be discouraged about that. You’ve got to build on that, move on, and hopefully win it the next year. It’s just amazement at how well Chad and Jimmie and those guys rebounding. I was telling somebody out there, I don’t know how many times I’ve been riding along third or fourth on a restart and there’s the 48 a lap down on the inside line and I think, ‘Man, their day is ruined,’ and by the end of the race, somehow they make it back up there, so I think we can all learn from that.”
WHY ARE YOU SO STRONG ON THESE TRACKS? “I think it’s a lot of things. These guys sitting next to me. The guys at the shop building the engines. Robbie Reiser and all of my teammates sharing information. I think that these tracks tax every aspect of your team. You have to have good pit stops, a good engine, a good aero package, good communication with the crew chief and then for me driving, it’s to feel a lot like a half-mile dirt track or something like that to me with the way the momentum works and all that. I just really enjoy the feel of these places. Right off the bat we had really good cars in 2004 and 2005 at these places and I really like them.”
THE LAST THREE WINNERS HERE HAVE WON AT TEXAS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? “I didn’t realize that. Did we do that in 2005? The tracks are a lot alike. I’m hoping that all the things we’ve been doing with Ford and all their support and the things we’ve been doing behind the scenes to make sure that our data and everything matches up and we can run well at these tracks, I hope that it carries over. Things change so fast, though. Really, week-to-week, it seems like early in the season Jimmie and those guys weren’t that fast at these places and they figured something out. I just hope that it does carry over. That would be real cool.”
WOULD YOU LIKE THEM TO WIDEN PIT ROAD HERE? “That’s a good question. I don’t know if it’s because of the size of pit road or things are coming down to crunch time and people are getting every inch they can. I think pit road seems to be wide enough. Honestly, they can do whatever they want with pit road, just don’t touch the race track. It’s perfect.”
YOU’RE IN THE NATIONWIDE HUNT AS WELL. HOW HARD IS IT TO FOCUS ON BOTH? “I’m very fortunate to be driving both. We’ve got fast Ford Fusions every week in both of them and, in a way, I think it’s a nice little escape from each of them. The run yesterday at Memphis was just a blast. I had a really good time and it kind or allowed me to relax a little bit. I think, in a way, that feeling of accomplishing something on Saturday can sometimes transfer over. I had a little spring in my step today, so I don’t think they take away at all. I think they kind of help one another.”